Pistons again find fault with officiating From wire reports
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — The Detroit Pistons are renowned for their resilience. If the defending champions don't rally from a 2-0 deficit against San Antonio in the NBA Finals, however, they might be as well known for their whining.
The Pistons complained incessantly about the officiating during the Spurs' 97-76 victory Sunday night in Game 2, just as they have at times during the regular season and playoffs.
When coach Larry Brown was asked if he was concerned with his team's lack of composure, he offered up what he called a simple statistic.
"We're 1-7 with one referee and 11-1 with the rest," Brown said Monday.
Brown declined to elaborate, but postseason box scores show Detroit is 1-7 when either Ron Garretson or Dan Crawford has officiated its games and 11-1 when neither has been on the court.
Of course, the Spurs have had a lot to do with the Pistons' problems, too.
"If people don't give us credit, we just don't care," said Manu Ginobili, who has scored 53 points in the series.
Spurs stars Tim Duncan and Ginobili appear to be better than anybody Detroit has while Tony Parker, Bruce Bowen and Robert Horry have made numerous key plays against the Pistons.
San Antonio is spreading the floor, sharing the ball and making shots. Defensively, the Spurs are taking away passing lanes and easy shots with chest-to-chest pressure.
Meanwhile, the Pistons look lost on offense and overmatched on defense as two of their starters —Ben Wallace and Tayshaun Prince— struggle at both ends of the court.
"We've never faced anything like this team," Detroit's Antonio McDyess acknowledged.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich expects to face a much different team the rest of the series.
"They're going to be ferocious," he said. "They're going to be very physical and aggressive."
The Spurs are two wins away from their second title in three years — and third in seven — but know it still won't be easy to stop the Pistons' quest to repeat.
Detroit will host Game 3 on Tuesday and Game 4 on Thursday and if necessary, Game 5.
"We can definitely win all three, but we still have to come back here," Prince said in San Antonio.
With a collection of talented castoffs, the Pistons have consistently proven they're at their best in adverse situations.
They trailed Miami 3-2 in the conference finals before advancing and were behind Indiana 2-1 in the previous round. They rallied from a 3-2 deficit to New Jersey last season and a 3-1 hole against Orlando two years ago, with four current starters playing prominent roles.
"I'm confident we'll respond, not because we always do it, but we have to," Detroit's Lindsey Hunter said. "There's no choice now.
"We're not demoralized. They did what they were supposed to do. They won two games. Now, we have to see what we can do back at home."
If the Pistons pull off a stunning comeback and win their fourth title, they will join the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers and 1969 Boston Celtics as the only teams to overcome an 0-2 deficit in the NBA Finals.
"It's another challenge for us to be great," Hunter said.
If the Pistons lose the next two games, they will be just the third defending champion to get swept in the finals, joining the 1989 Los Angeles Lakers and the 1983 Lakers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"It's not about coming back, it's about finding ways to win games, or we're going to spend a long summer trying to figure out what could've been, or should've happened," Wallace said.
Though the Spurs seem unstoppable, they crumbled last year and made things more difficult for themselves earlier in these playoffs in the same situation they're in now.
San Antonio lost four straight to the Lakers in the conference finals last season after leading 2-0 and were pushed to six games by Seattle this year after winning the first two games of their second-round series.
The Spurs can feel good about their chances of dealing with prosperity against Detroit because since trailing 17-4 in Game 1, they've outscored the Pistons by 49 points.